Engaging young people in a dialogue about mental health through drama

March 13, 2017 at 3:56 pm (Uncategorized)

The last couple of years has seen an explosion in interest and awareness about young people’s mental health. Whichever media outlet one choses, it is impossible to not be aware that there is an emerging crisis regarding the levels of support and provision available for young people across the country, with many services being seen as “not fit for purpose” – to quote Norman Lamb (MP). The Future in Mind document produced by the task force set up by the Government to look into this issue has offered considerable hope – with its emphasis on improved access and earlier, more preventative practice – but the alarm bells continue to ring when reports suggest that some of the money provided for local transformation plans is failing to reach the front line. Schools remain desperate for support, whilst children, young people and families struggle to make sense of the waiting lists and delays that potentially exacerbate their difficulties and needs.
It is within this context of unmet need, and a genuine desire to find ways of supporting young people earlier, in a more preventative and resilience-building approach, that this highly innovative and creative partnership has evolved. This day of youth engagement and participation is seeking to generate a highly innovative way of enabling a dialogue about young people’s mental health through the forum of performance and drama. At the Pleasance theatre in Islington, on the 22nd March, a day has been developed that aims to create a space, through an experience of theatre and drama, for young people to have their voices genuinely heard – and acted upon – when looking to make a contribution to the current discourse about the crisis in young people’s mental health services and support. Secondary school students from across the London borough of Haringey have been invited to participate in an event that looks to be both engaging and empowering, so that by the end of the day, the young people involved will have a greater awareness about mental health and emotional wellbeing, but also will have been involved in the co-development of a charter that states what they believe needs to be done and be available.
Whilst there are many positive aspirations within the Future in Mind paper, which have then been built on within local transformation plans, it is often difficult to articulate a genuine voice of young people in helping to co-design services that meet their needs. Many services have experts by experience – be they children, young people or parents who have experience services – involved in assisting with the development of their local offer, but it can be difficult to access the thoughts and opinions of those young people who do not seek help and/or access support. This event on the 22nd March looks to offer a genuine opportunity to young people from within Haringey, who are not necessarily linked to services, to work together in workshops and explore what they believe may be useful and beneficial for themselves, their peers, their families, within their schools and across their communities
IAM BEAST has been developed by the drama company Sparkle and Dark and charts the journey of an adolescent girl who is struggling – both inwardly and with those around her – following the tragic loss of her mother. The play offers a representation of the dialogue and discourse that we have both with and within ourselves, as well as with those around us, whilst holding on to the uncertainties and insecurities of adolescence that are further impacted upon by this experience of bereavement. This piece of drama will be shown in the afternoon, and provide a framework for the day to assist young people and guests, in thinking about the distress of one particular young person, but to then consider what could be provided not only for her, but also for others.

The 22nd March event therefore offers many things, but all with a similar aim and objective. The use of drama provides the focus for the theme of emotional need and distress, but it also ensures that we can explore the impact on the individual and their family – an exploration that doesn’t need to become too personalised for the young people involved. But it also provides a platform for the young people to be able to develop their own ideas of what is needed to address the current crisis, and an audience where these ideas can be heard. The partnership involved in supporting Sparkle and Dark draws on a wealth of experience – from providing local mental health services through the local mental health trust, to Young Minds who campaign nationally on behalf of children, young people and parents, from Neuroscientist Kirstie Whittaker who has researched much about adolescent brain development, to the department of Psychology at University of East London who are providing the evaluation of the impact of this work, from the offer of the space at the Pleasance Theatre, to the provision of funding through the Wellcome Trust. This breadth of experience and expertise, however, counts for little when knowing how it feels to be a young person in a school, on the streets or on social media in this current climate. For this event is looking to hear the voices of these young people, talking about what is needed, and what they would like to see within their communities, but most importantly recognising that emotional support and emotional wellbeing are everybody’s business. That if we are to re-design and re-develop services for children and young people, then they need to be at the heart of this dialogue. After all, there should be “nothing about us, without us”.

Dr Nick Barnes (Haringey CAMHS, School of Psychology, University of East London)

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The Girl With No Heart in Edinburgh!

August 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm (Uncategorized)

Come find us at The Bedlam Theatre at 5pm 3rd-25th August! Here’s some of our reviews so far!

“Stunning!”    The Stage
* * * *  Broadway Baby
“Gorgeous.  A must see!”
* * * *   The Public Reviews  
“Beautiful, magical and haunting in equal measure.  Both moving and inspiring, certainly not to be missed!”
* * * *   Edinburgh Reporter
“Imaginative and beguiling passion coupled with crafted intelligence”
* * * *  Fringe Biscuit
“Eerily Beautiful!”
* * * *  Sabotage Reviews
“Stunning and powerful”

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The Girl With No Heart – EXTRA LONDON DATE!

October 11, 2011 at 9:55 am (Uncategorized)

Sparkle and Dark’s Travelling Players present an ADDITIONAL Work-In-Progress performance of their new show The Girl With No Heart at THE ROSEMARY BRANCH:


THE ROSEMARY BRANCH  – 18th November 9pm

BOOKING: 0207 704 6665

CLICK HERE for more information and booking!

Their city is made of paper, as are their hearts. The children seek to rebuild an ash-filled world destroyed by war – by folding one paper brick at a time. Beautiful and highly creative puppetry with live music and shadow play.


See NEW stage shots in The Girl With No Heart – GALLERY

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The Girl With No Heart SCRATCH

September 19, 2011 at 11:58 am (Uncategorized)

Sparkle and Dark’s Travelling Players present two Work-In-Progress performances of their new show The Girl With Heart at two venues:


Little Angel, London – 24th September 7pm

The Brook Theatre, Kent – 5th October 7:45pm

CLICK HERE for more information and booking!

Their city is made of paper, as are their hearts. The children seek to rebuild an ash-filled world destroyed by war – by folding one paper brick at a time.  Beautiful and highly creative puppetry with live music and shadow play. 


Keep updated with behind the scenes developments on TWITTER!


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The Clock Master wins Best Family Show!

August 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm (Productions)

Sparkle and Dark travel homewards…

As our 2011 UK tour returns home, we are proud to announce that The Clock Master won the Award for Best Family show at Buxton Fringe Festival 2011! Congratulations also go to Ceridwen Smith for being nominated for the Best Actor award!

We would like to say thank you to everyone who helped make this tour possible, including the Arts Council and Puppet Centre Trust for their continued support, as well as numerous others (click HERE to read about everyone involved).

 Here’s a selection of Press quotes from 2011!

“The direction, moment by moment, is a delight … And the cast are excellent as well, pulling off some bold physical theatre with a host of colourful characters, as well as rich music and skilled puppetry.”
Animations online

“… a brilliantly realised slice of acting, storytelling, puppetry and music – all consistently great.”  
Buxton Fringe Review

“… a feast for the eyes (and ears) for those who love storytelling!”
A Younger Theatre

Read more Press and Audience reviews HERE

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The Clock Master returns to Buxton!

June 29, 2011 at 3:42 pm (Productions)

The first family show in Buxton Fringe history to win the Best New Writing Award is returning  for 2011!

“Children and adults alike will be amazed… a feast for the eyes (and ears) for those who love storytelling!”
– A Younger Theatre, London 2011

After also being nominated for Best Family Show at last year’s festival, Sparkle and Dark are looking forward to returning to The Pauper’s Pit with The Clock Master.


The Pauper’s Pit
Underground Venues

The Square, Buxton, SK17 6BD

Friday 8th July – 7:30pm
Saturday 9th July – 12pm
Sunday 10th July – 12pm
Tickets: £4.50-£8.50 – Box Office: 02081 440 070
Online booking: CLICK HERE

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The Clock Master is coming to London!

June 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm (Productions)

**** “The Clock Master’s time has come!”
– Fringe Guru, 2011

The Rosemary Branch Theatre

2 Shepperton Rd,  London N1 3DT
020 7704 2730

4:30pm – Friday 17th June

5pm – Saturday 18th June

5pm – Sunday 19th June

Click HERE to see other tour dates!

Click HERE to learn about the show!

The Clock Master is returning home to its birth place – The Rosemary Branch Theatre! After trekking the length and breadth of the UK, Sparkle and Dark are heading home midway through their 2011 Tour! Here’s what our audiences have had to say about the show this year:

“It was Brilliant!” – Anna, 6

“It was really amazing. I’m a grown-up and I loved every minute!”

“Fantastic, amazing, spectacular performance.  We soon became totally lost within the characters and BELIEVED!”

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The Clock Master receives Arts Council Funding!

March 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm (Uncategorized)

Sparkle and Dark’s Travelling Players are delighted to have been awarded funding from Grants for Arts towards their 2011 UK tour of The Clock Master!

We are touring to a huge variety of venues ranging from rural touring venues in Kent and Northamptonshire, to outdoor forest theatres, to Fringe Festivals and fantastic venues such as The Rosemary Branch, The Point and The Lowry.

 CLICK HERE for our interactive tour map and venue schedule.


                                  CLICK HERE to learn about the show!

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The Clock Master 2011 tour!

January 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm (Productions)

Sparkle and Dark’s award winning production of The Clock Master and puppet-making workshop is going on tour in Spring and Summer 2011!

 Spring /  Summer 2011 dates

9th April – St Barnabus School Tunbridgewells, Kent
12th April – The Point, Easleigh
30th April – The Hawth Studio, West sussex
8th May – Icklesham Memorial Hall, Kent
21st May – Park Road Church, Nottingham
22nd May – Denton Village Hall, Nottingham
28th-30th May – Marlborough Theatre, Brighton
12th June – Spinney Hollow Forest Theatre
17th-19th June – Rosemary Branch Theare,  London
26th June – The Lowry, Manchester
8th – 10th July – Buxton Festival, Paupers Pit
15th-16th July – Latitude Festival

Learn more  about The Clock Master and watch the trailer  HERE.
See photos HERE
Or read public and press reviews HERE!

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The Astronomer’s Garden

October 20, 2010 at 3:12 pm (Productions)

The Astronomer’s Garden at Lauderdale House!

Sparkle and Dark bring this brand new magical, murky and muddy story-telling show to Highgate!

Unravel the mystery of Murkeyville – a town where no sun shines, no moon glows and no stars ever sparkle!  Everyone’s grumpy except for Little Granny Aggy who spends her days peering through a telescope and tending the empty flowerbeds!  Discover the secret of the Astronomer’s Garden with interactive storytelling, puppetry, live music and a pile of magical garden junk!

Saturday November 6th 2010

Time: 10:00 and 11:30

Price: £4.50  £3.00

Ages: 2 to 6

No advance booking – tickets on the door. Doors open half an hour before each performance.  Visit Lauderdale House’s website for more information and directions to the venue:  http://www.lauderdalehouse.org.uk/default.asp

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